Study: Three-Fourths Of Americans Are Unable To Name All Three Branches Of Government

cropped-500px-scene_at_the_signing_of_the_constitution_of_the_united_states.jpgI just returned from a terrific event at Christopher Newport University on Constitution Day — a debate with Professor John Yoo.  While we were delighted by the large number of students who appeared to listen to the debate, we discussed the recent poll on the lack of knowledge of citizens.  A recent poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) found that, in a survey of over 1,000 citizens, only a quarter were able to name all three branches of the federal government.  We just discussed the poll showing that four out of ten Americans cannot name a single right under the first amendment.  Once again, these polls leave us with the troubling prospect of a woefully uneducated public on their own government.


Of the rights in the first amendment, only 15 percent could name the freedom of religion, only 14 percent could name the freedom of the press, only 10 percent could name the right of assembly and only three percent could name the right to petition.

I am more concerned that only 26 percent of those polled had the basic education on the structure of our tripartite system of government.  It is hard to see how citizens can defend their civil liberties with little knowledge of what those liberties are or how the government works.

107 thoughts on “Study: Three-Fourths Of Americans Are Unable To Name All Three Branches Of Government”

  1. This blawg is a conspiracy to defame the American people and the poll-takers are in on it. In fact, that’s what poll-taking is; isn’t it? Defamation of national character. Has there ever been a single poll that showed that the American people knew something about anything? No. Never. Not once. I swear. The system is rigged. The fix is in. They’re all IsaacBasonkovich polls. And you’re all Canadian rainmen. The Fig-O-Spain to the whole lot of you.

  2. I would propose that those who are unable to know such basic facts be disallowed from entering a voting booth, but such a restriction might be disallowed by the Poll Tax Amendment. It is true that at the time of the Constitution, there were debates about who should be an eligible voter, with some suggesting that property owners should be the only ones eligible. This would have effectively limited each household to one vote in elections. The way things have evolved over the succeeding centuries, this may not have been a bad idea.

    1. I could agree with that. Anyone voting ought to at least pass the test we administer to our newest citizens.

      I heard somewhere (was it CA?) they are thinking about lowering the voting age to 16.

  3. Silly Americans. Everyone knows the three branches of government: vertical, horizontal, and oblique.

  4. The subject polling results are consistent with both main stream parties sharing primary goal of converting the USA into a 3rd world banana republic. We are well past the “fail safe” marker. Mission accomplished!

    The Soros wing of Progressivism need lifelong Democrat voters for gubermint largesse (AKA lifelong inherited poverty). Meanwhile, Bush/McConnell Republiscum need people who can’t earn a living outside the military (for illegal foreign military excursions, something Dems also now love) and to forever apply negative pressure to wages.

  5. Well, when students can’t even tell you something as black and white as what gender they are what should we expect? Knowing the three branches is probably hate speech or a micro-aggression.

    1. Jim22 – certainly knowledge is a micro-aggression, so I guess the three branches of government fit in there.

  6. that’s why they keep winning and why I lean towards secession
    those who were smart would join us and bail – all the rest would stick around and be happy little slaves

    which is probably why Soros and Buffett are for it

  7. That fact must have disturbed the late great Justice Scalia. After all, there were 8 other justices sitting on the court when he was named to join them. Thus he could never actually be a true original textualist by virtue of the change that he so eloquently differed with.

  8. When I was in high school, everybody had to take a Civics class where basic info re our government was covered. Is this even done anymore?

  9. Reblogged this on The Inquiring Mind and commented:
    Another example of how education fails the majority. Here in NZ the Blessed One wants schools to teach civics, Frankly that frightens Adam. Adam’s version of civics is likely to diverge markedly from the teacher unions.

    In NZ the advent of MMP has made competent civics teaching more relevant not less. Yet education is politically polarised.

  10. When I worked at a high school there were always students who’d eat in the outside common areas and the doors to get back in the main hallways were locked and had to be opened from the inside. I would occasionally be put in the position to let a few of them in. I would always open the door and ask”How many Supreme Court Justices are there?” I would get answers from 3-50. I would always correct them and tell them of all the people in government that have the most control over your lives it’s the justices on the Supreme Court. We have to start some where and I think knowing the basics of the Supremes is a good one.

    1. Roscoe Coltrane – there were 6 justices on the original court. That would have confused them. 😉

    2. Ralph Nader used to say, ‘better turn on to politics or politics will turn on you’
      I used to say back, ‘too late!’ turns out, I was right.

      still, I’ve made some new discoveries, things I wouldn’t have ever thought of before.

      One thing I do know, you got to make kids care, many don’t, however, the one thing that has been driven into their brains these last 10 years is money, they care about makin money and that has turned out to be the biggest trap.

Comments are closed.